Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The (2014)

Review #1,116

Director:  Peter Jackson
Cast:  Ian McKellenMartin FreemanRichard Armitage
Plot:  Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.

Genre:  Adventure / Fantasy / Action
Awards:  Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Sound Editing
Runtime:  144min
Rating:  PG13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

“One day I'll remember.  Remember everything that happened: the good, the bad, those who survived... and those that did not.”

Finally, we can officially say that “The Hobbit” trilogy is inferior to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  But at least we can draw comfort from the thought that this final installment is quite the necessary rousing finale, enough to make us believe that, just perhaps, it is all worthwhile to embark on that journey with Bilbo Baggins. 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, as epic as the title sounds, does provide loads of action and spectacle, enough to satisfy moviegoers in for one last fantasy-adventure fix.  The story continues off from The Desolation of Smaug (2013), the weakest part of the trilogy, with a certain talking dragon on its way to unleash fiery terror.  There is not much story left to develop, except one that raises the stakes for the final battle at the Lonely Mountain.

Everything leads to this, but I believe many would agree that the journey could have been tighter (i.e. shorter).  The Elves are pitted against the Dwarves.  The Men join the Elves.  And in the backdrop, a huge, battle-hardened army of Orcs are ready to flood the fields with blood. 

There are moments of humour, but the film's treatment is dark, violent and tragic – all ingredients of good drama.  And indeed the drama comes into its own as the movie progresses, to the point that by the time the film ends, everything is wrapped up nicely.  Certainly, for fans of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the epilogue of this film would stir your memories (and feelings) of nostalgia once again.

I still stand by An Unexpected Journey (2012) as my personal favourite, similar to what I felt about The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).  I like the anticipation of a valiant trek into the unknown, flanked by brothers who will become great comrades. 

The Battle of the Five Armies hardly disappoints, but if it does, it is because it suffers from the mysticism that is old familiarity.  Some things you treasure deeply, like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, that it becomes sacred.  Any attempt to replicate that mysticism is doomed to fail. 

Much of what transpired in “The Hobbit” trilogy was done before, and done (much) better.  But at least Peter Jackson wasn't doomed to fail, neither was he destined to succeed.  I think that sums up the buzz and fuss of the trilogy.

Verdict:  The drama comes into its own as the movie progresses, with loads of action and spectacle to offer in this rousing finale.

GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)

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